Magnum elects Sohrab Hura as newest nominee

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Magnum Photos has named Indian photographer Sohrab Hura as its latest nominee. The announcement was made following the agency’s annual general meeting, which took place in New York at the weekend.

“Olivia Arthur and Susan Meiselas encouraged me to apply,” Hura told BJP on the phone earlier today. “I was a bit nervous and scared in the beginning about what it would mean to be a Magnum nominee, and to be out there in the photo world. I’ve been working on my own for a long time and I’ve been quite cut off from the photo scene, enjoying the freedom. But then I got lots of welcome emails from Magnum photographers. A lot of them told me to keep doing what I do, and to not change myself for Magnum. In fact, I’m trying to switch off from knowing that I got selected, so I can focus on my work… It feels like something to try out, to see if being part of something works for me. I’m quite excited because a lot of us [photographers] were inspired by and looked up to Magnum in a big way when we were growing up.”

Currently based in New Delhi, Hura trained as an economist at Delhi University and at the Delhi School of Economics. The 32-year-old took up photography in 2001 but began to focus on “trying to say something” in his photographs in 2005, after finishing his studies.

To date, Hura has worked on projects that touch on themes including India’s economic boom and the effect of this on the lives of people in rural parts of the continent, namely a small region in central India called Pati, where Hura has been concentrating his efforts. 

The photographer, who was featured in BJP in July 2011, has also been working on a ‘two-chapter’ personal project called Sweet Life (2005 to 2014). Chapter 1, Life Is Elsewhere (2005 to 2011), focuses on his relationship with his mother, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He began a second project (Chapter 2) called Look, It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!! (2008 to 2014) when her mental health started to improve, he explains. Chapter 2 is complete now, although it has yet to be shown widely. Hura hopes to publish both projects as books in the future.

He is currently working on The Song of Sparrows in a Hundred Days of Summer (2013 to ongoing), which features photographs taken in a small village in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. “I’m trying to photograph the summer, to photograph something intangible about it – the heat.

“Photographing at home was difficult for me,” he adds. “I asked myself lots of questions about honesty, and I think I got a bit screwed in the head with that work, so I’m taking a break from working in an autobiographical way. Right now I’m looking to the outside world as a way of relief, but maybe I’ll go back into my own world.”

The application process to become a Magnum nominee involved submitting some 60 photographs initially, Hura says, after he was nominated by Magnum member Olivia Arthur. At a later date, he submitted a book dummy, video and a wider selection of images “that show my entire process, from when I started to now, and how I’ve changed over the years as a photographer.

“I’m always working on four or five things at the same time that are completely different from one another in terms of the language, narrative, story and, equally importantly, the tone,” he says. “This way of working keeps me happy and is closer to who I am because I am each one of those works.”

Every year for the past 67 years, Magnum Photos has held its AGM in either London, New York or Paris. From 26 to 29 June, Magnum photographers, representatives from photographers’ estates and the agency’s international staff flocked to New York to discuss company business and to vote on potential new members, associates and nominees. The AGM took place across three venues: the International Center of Photography, Milk Gallery and creative space NeueHouse.

In addition, Moises Saman has been made a member of Magnum, and Bieke Depoorter and Jérôme Sessini have been made associates.

Magnum also selected American photographer Shannon Jensen as winner of the 2014 Inge Morath Award for A Long Walk, a project about the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have travelled hundreds of miles on foot from the Blue Nile state in Sudan to South Sudan. Rather than photographing the refugees, Jensen chose to focus on their worn-out shoes.

Martin Parr was unanimously elected president of Magnum Photos International; previously he served as interim president.

Giorgio Psacharopulo steps down as chief executive officer, while David Kogan, a journalist and former global managing director of Reuters Television, has been appointed executive director, effective immediately.

In a press statement, Parr reflected on the recent changes at the agency, commenting: “This is an exciting time for Magnum. We have consolidated and increased our photographer base with a very talented group of people coming from diverse photographic and cultural backgrounds.”

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